Pepper vs. SkyNet
Inspired by the copperbadge story Robot Trip
DISCLAIMER: see end of chapter
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Pepper sat in the lab, working on the gauntlet. Every once in a while Dum-E would beep sadly, like that damn robot from Star Wars. C3PO? No...R2D2. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope. As if. No knight was coming to rescue this princess in the tower.
Pepper had painted all the windows on the secondary lab level with a thermally-reflective blackout paint. Then painted them again with a sound-canceling, vibranium-infused paint, ensuring nobody could use a laser emitter on the glass for electronic eavesdropping. She ended up crying through half of the job, because it reminded her of the Rolling Stones song, which made her think of Tony.
JARVIS was gone, because SkyNet mind-raped him and Pepper had put him down like a rabid dog. She’d done the core-wipe thing, which Tony had taught her after SHIELD (and HYDRA) had gotten froggy a few years ago. She thought it might be almost like losing a child, because there was no doubt that JARVIS had been a person, even if not actually human.
It must have been a great shock to HYDRA when the disaster they engineered resulted in their own rapid and explosive demise. SkyNet had obviously computed that they were quite a threat, because overkill by nuclear fusion was the word of the day. And apparently SHIELD was down for the count, as well. Pepper sniffed again, and continued to work on the gauntlet.
Dum-E made a great lab assistant and watchdog: surprisingly good with blunt and sharp weapons, electrical and mechanical tripwires, and the first aid kit (not to mention the fire extinguisher). Pepper might even trust him with a Terminator’s 40 kilowatt plasma rifle, but it would be just a bit creepy.
Pepper slammed the screwdriver on the table. “Goddamit, Tony, why couldn’t you make the repulsors for the gauntlets and the boots interchangeable?” Of course, the only answer was Dum-E’s sad beeping. And Pepper knew it was because more force was needed in the boots when flying Tony-style, but it means she’s had to attach an oversize repulsor to the gauntlet.
It turned out (unsurprisingly) that an Iron Man suit partially lobotomized to prevent SkyNet hacking was not nearly the awesome machine she remembered from her two brief experiences. Plus, the suits’ chest plates were never configured for a pilot with breasts. And after half a dozen plasma bolts had smashed the holy hell out of the last remaining suit torso, she was down to gauntlet and boot repulsors, run off a jury-rigged ARC reactor salvaged from an older suit.
Pepper knew over four dozen ways to incapacitate Terminators and nine different ways to destroy them. Her favorites were a repulsor blast to the fuel cell (preferably at long range) or a focused blast to the chip’s armored cover (at point-blank range) to smash the coltan alloy plug down into the chip it was designed to protect.
For the ten-thousandth time she cursed Cyberdyne and the Pentagon, because she expected they would have learned a lesson after the Hammeroid attack on the Stark Expo back in 2010. But they hadn’t, and Cyberdyne was the only company that could offer a reasonable bid with Justin Hammer in prison and Tony firmly against providing either AIs or weaponized robots of any sort to the military.
Pepper used a multimeter to check the modifications to the gauntlet. In retrospect, she shouldn’t have been shocked she could learn how to do basic repairs to the suits. But she wasn’t Tony: neither a genius nor a real mechanic. She’s a part swapper who had learned how to use the computer to turn the building’s ARC reactor all the way down (really, idling power is sufficient for her needs) and connect wires to the replacement suit bits.
The greatest irony was that Pepper would have died like everyone else she loved if the doctors had been successful at neutralizing the Extremis. She didn’t know whether to thank God for the oversight or not. “Oh, Tony.” She put her head down on the work bench and let the tears fall.
Pepper jolted awake as Dum-E prodded her gently for a second time. The remote sensors she’d placed on her trips throughout the wreckage of New York showed a patrol of three probable T600s ten blocks to the north, and they weren’t going to terminate themselves. Pepper slipped the modified gauntlet on and checked the range of motion and capacitor circuit. She eased into the two least damaged boots and shrugged on the backpack ARC reactor. A scarred helmet from the wall unit had a basic-but-useful targeting program installed, and Dum-E bolted the door behind her when she stepped out into the hall.
She’s Pepper Effing Potts, and she’s the Resistance.
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DISCLAIMER: Iron Man is property of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby. Terminator 2 is property of James Cameron, William Wisher, Carolco Pictures, Lightstorm Entertainment, Pacific Western and StudioCanal. This work is not for profit, and no ownership of aforementioned copyrighted material implied, nor any infringement intended.